CHOOSE LIFE…by Tariq Siraj

They say sports and politics should never mix, but they do share a common trait – certainly in recent times – in that both have largely helped debunk the myth of the ‘all-knowing commentator’. Time and again the pollsters, forecasters, pundits and predictors get it wrong. Life, it seems, does not play out according to stats, simulations or rankings.

This has been particularly true of the World Cup in Russia where the results have specifically (and gloriously) shattered the idea that having billions of dollars and ‘world-renowned experts’ gives you some magic soothsaying abilities.

As a way to show off their fancy modelling techniques and predict the winner before the start, UBS deployed a team of 18 analysts and editors, ran a computer simulation of the tournament 10,000 times and produced a comprehensive 17-page research note – all at great cost.

Unfortunately for them their prediction was that Germany would, by some distance ahead of Spain and Brazil, be the likely winner again. After all the expense and trumpet blowing, their big conclusion went down the toilet in the group stages.

Similarly, after two games Goldman Sachs re-ran their own ‘market leading’ mathematical model to predict the outcome of all the knockout games and the eventual winner. Again, like UBS, the ‘experts’ and the uber modern game-changing models were left in the shade by how real life played out; of the 16 teams in the second round only four were predicted correctly by Goldman to advance, and their conclusion that Brazil would be the winner was also laid to rest after their defeat on the Quarter Finals.


So…what’s the point?

On the one hand UBS and Goldman predicting Germany, Brazil or Spain to triumph was essentially just in line with the thoughts of the majority of people anyway – so were the expensive simulations, reports and expert analysts actually required at all? The phrase ‘we could have told you that’ comes to mind.

And on the other hand, of course, the predictions were completely and embarrassingly wrong…so whether you’re a multi-billion dollar bulge bracket bank or just a simple football fan, it seems as if football matches and life will indeed play out on their own terms.

Now, we definitely could have told you that!



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